How To Get It Right While Gutting A Catfish

How To Get It Right While Gutting A Catfish

Gutting a catfish is not just a walk in the park and can be very complicated for those who have not mastered the art of doing so. Learning to do it the right way is also not very complex, and all you need is interest and determination. Catfish have tough skins, and this makes them quite hardy. Learning how to gut a catfish is crucial since with that knowledge you can fish, gut the fish and prepare a meal conveniently. Due to these reasons, I had to learn how to gut the catfish which is quite a delicacy when prepared well.

There are several ways of gutting a catfish, but I will outline the easiest methods. I will share my catfish gutting knowledge with you, step by step.


What You'll Need


best fishing pilers

Piscifun Aluminum Fishing Pliers Braid Cutters Split Ring Pliers Hook Remover Fish Holder with Sheath and Lanyard. Via:

The Piscifun Fishing Pliers makes use of an aircraft-grade aluminum material which makes it a lightweight tool perfect for your fishing trip.

Partnered with an ergonomic aluminum handles, you have fishing pliers that is comfortable to use. It features the Sharpest Tungsten Carbide Cutters which can easily cut even strong braid.


Rapala Fishing Fillet Knife

Rapala Fishing Fillet Knife. Via:

Knife with extra blade can help us easily to cut the meat out of the bone.


Cut Resistant Kitchen Gloves for Carve & Slice Meat, Filet Fish,Food Grade

Cut Resistant Kitchen Gloves for Carve & Slice Meat, Filet Fish,Food Grade . Via:

This gloves type to protect you from catfish spines.

Tips To Remember

  • Catfish fished from clean water taste better when prepared nicely.
  • You can fillet the catfish without first gutting them if you are skilled at filleting the rib section.
  • Fins can be removed first to avoid getting hurt. To avoid making your knife blunt, you can use medical shears.
  • Using a sharp knife is better than using a blunt knife because it turns out to be more dangerous.
  • To make the job easier, you can use special cat fishing pliers.

Step-By-Step Instructions Of Gutting Catfish

How To Gut A Fish Without Scales

1. Assemble All The Items Required

The first and foremost thing that you must do is to make sure that you gather all the necessary items with you. Ensure you have all the equipment needed for gutting the catfish to ensure your workflows to the end. The equipment needed include a rope, a pair of regular pliers and a large knife which is of almost the same size as that of the butcher.

2. Clean The Fish

It is necessary to clean the fish to remove any unwanted material from its body.To remove the fishy smell associated with cleaning fresh fish you can use lemon juice and clean water.

3. Ensure That The Fish Is Dead

You don’t want to gut a live fish because you know what might happen. The fish also feels pain and might react by trying to bite you or harm you in various other ways. You must make sure the fish is dead as this is very important in avoiding injuries. It is also humane enough. To be sure that the fish is dead you can cut the tail to bleed off the fish to death.

4. With A Lot Of Caution, Cut Through The Skin Of The Catfish The Gills

A lot of care is required while carrying out this process. Be careful not to puncture any of the organs of the fish. Use a pair of pliers to hold the fins as you cut them off right at the base.

5. Suspend The Fish On Anything That Is Suitable, For Instance On A Tree.

Try as much as possible to locate something on which you can hang the fish. This will make it easy for you to cut the skin of the fish down at the centre of the back.

6. Pull The Skin Off From The Head Down Using The Pliers

This is a challenging step which one can only perfect through constant practice. It may take a while to perfect, but with practice and patience, you can get to perfection.

Lay the fish on its side and with the pliers grasp the skin where you made a cut, just below the gills. If it is difficult to peel the skin, you can use a knife to loosen it. If necessary, remove the remaining bits of skin with your fingers.

7. Remove The Skin From The Top To The Tail

If you had not cut off the tail you can cut it off at this point and then using a large knife; you can cut off the head. The go ahead and remove the skin of the fish from the top to the tail.

8. Fillet The Fish

Cut the fish along the backbone from the tail to the ribs. Cut from the top all the way down, beside the spine and let the edge follow the ribs.

9. The Fish Is Now Ready To Be Prepared For A Meal

After filleting both sides of the fish, it is ready to be prepared to a delicacy using the various recipes that are available.

Cleaning and filleting a fresh fish

Cleaning and filleting a fresh fish

How to gut a fish with scales

1. Remove The Catfish From The Cooler

Remove one fish at a time and let the rest remain in the cooler as you work on the other. This is to keep them fresh.

2. Start Scaling The Fish

As you work on it, hold it by the head and scrape off the scales from the tail towards the gills. The scales should come off loosely and easily. Be careful while working on the fins to avoid getting injured from the pricks. Ensure that you remove all gills. Also, to avoid pressing too hard on the fish and gashing it, make the strokes of your scale remover are short and fast.

3. Rinse The Fish

Considering that the meat inside the fish is delicate, you should not blast it with water to avoid ruining it. To get rid of the smell associated with fresh fish you can use a hose or the faucet provided by the marina. The pressure used should be just enough to remove the loose scales.

4. Move On To The Next Fish And Repeat The Procedure After Placing It In The Cooler

To ensure that the catfish stays fresh, place it in a cooler after you are done gutting it. Continue gutting the other fish following the same procedure.


  • There are some species of catfish which have venom. Be cautious on the type of fish you will intend to catch so that you can take precautions if it is poisonous.
  • Use pliers to hold the fish when necessary and be cautious when using knives to avoid getting injuries.
  • Catfish have spurs which are located on the fins on both sides behind the gills. They can cause a painful wound if they break the skin.


In most places, it is difficult to find a skinned catfish, and so it is better if you know how to do it for yourself. I hope that this article will answer all your questions on the topic ‘how to gut a catfish.' With adequate knowledge, you can work it all out independently and cut out on the cost of having to seek expertise on gutting a catfish.

Leave any comments and opinions that you will find necessary and feel free to share this article with other anglers and people who could be willing to be knowledgeable about gutting a catfish.

Louella Trump

Hi there, I’m Louella Trump, an adventurous young lady who loves exploring our beautiful nature by traveling and fishing. I write so as to share my passion and experiences with fellow readers who enjoy fishing and traveling as one of their recreational activities. My primary objective in sharing my experiences while traveling and fishing is to basically inspire any like-minded person out there to stop at nothing and leave no stone unturned in ensuring that they explore their passion as much as they can.

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